History Nebraska Blog

Flashback Friday: Rare Photos from a Troubled Time Featured in Newest NSHS Book

Last Days of Red Cloud Agency: Rare Photos from a Troubled Time In the final year of his life, longtime NSHS curator Thomas R. Buecker investigated and wrote about a newly-uncovered collection of photographs which illustrate a major turning point in the history of Nebraska and the Great Plains. The NSHS recently published the resulting book, Last Days of Red Cloud Agency: Peter T. Buckley’s Photograph Collection, 1876-1877. The years 1876-77 were a period of traumatic change for the Native peoples of the northern Plains. The Great Sioux War marked the end of their traditional lifestyle and the beginning of their restriction to reservations. Last Days of Red Cloud Agency presents a collection of photographs of the Oglala Lakota and Arapaho Indians at northwestern Nebraska’s Red Cloud Agency, of the agency itself, and of other sites and landmarks in the vicinity. The collection was assembled by Peter T. Buckley, who worked at Camp (later Fort) Robinson, Nebraska, during those crucial years. Some of these views are already familiar to historians, but many others are published here for the first time. Together they tell a story of a land and culture in transition. Historian and author Paul Hedren says that Buecker “was a master story-teller whose unique focus was the Pine Ridge Country and Fort Robinson. He had a sharp eye for detail and especially reveled in the minute dimensions of that grand old fort, in the sagas of Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, and Spotted Tail, or here in the remarkable tale of Camp Robinson and Red Cloud Agency in their glory days. The diverse array of images associated with this particular narrative are themselves a treasure. Piecing the story of collectors and this striking group of photographs, many of them unpublished, was Tom’s forte. Last Days of Red Cloud Agency is both a unique contribution to Nebraska history and a fitting final tribute to a sorely missed historian and friend.”

Major J.W. Paddock entertains a group at his home for breakfast.
Around the table from right to left are an unidentified man, Frank Ransom, Spotted Tail, Major Paddock, Dove Eye (Spotted Tail's daughter), and Mrs.
Spotted Tail.


Buckley’s photograph collection is owned by Larry Ness of Yankton, South Dakota, who generously allowed the NSHS to scan and publish the photos. Publication costs were provided by the Ronald K. and Judith M. Stolz Parks Publishing Fund established at the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation. The 268-page hardcover book is available for $29.95 ($26.95 for NSHS members) through the NSHS Landmark Stores, Amazon.com, and select local bookstores. For more information, visit nebraskahistory.org or call 402-471-4754

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